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Ghost Rider
Two and one half Hearts

"This is Not Ghost Rider"

Written by Steven Walker

This is a review of the Extended Cut of Ghost Rider, which I feel is a lot better in terms of characterization, especially in the first half.

In my review of the Fantastic Four Part 2, I criticized the movie for getting most the concepts right but failing to execute them with any kind of artistic vision. Ghost Rider has quite the opposite problem. You can see the passion for the material on screen...you can feel a sincere attempt at style, but it is all sorely misguided.

Let me be honest. I have a huge personal issue with the concept that colors my feelings about the movie no matter how objective I try to be. I have always believed that Ghost Rider should be a horror movie. A hardcore, R-rated journey through the evil nature of vengence. The very idea of Ghost Rider as a PG-13 Western wannabe that is skewing a younger crowd than Spider-Man makes me sick. If not for this massive baggage, I might be kind enough to give the movie 3 stars.

Nicolas Cage really wanted this, and you can tell. He injects Johnny Blaze with more character than his last five other rolls combined. It's truly a shame none of that really translates to Ghost Rider himself.

Don't get me wrong, Ghosty looks awesome, but they could have given the skull more expression. I'm willing to accept a flaming skull for a head, so it would not be a stretch if the skull morphed slightly to highten the emotion.

Peter Fonda is a great devil, he is just given nothing to do that we haven't seen the devil do already in other, better movies (Needful Things, The Devil's Advocate, The Prophecy, Constantine).

Despite my feelings about the softness of the character, they do basically get Ghost Rider correct...and the Pennance Stare is easily the best part of the movie. However, the picture fails in four fundamental ways that hurt my enjoyment of the parts that work.

1.) Poor action. There is virtually no action to speak of. All of the "fight scenes" are brief and end with Ghosty lassoing the baddies with his flaming chain. But I understand that was a budgetary issue and not a lack of creativity on the director's part, so I will kinda sorta let them slide on that.

2.) Lousy love interest. Everything with the girl just felt fake and pointless. That fact that I don't even remember her name tells me a lot. She was there to fullfill the need for a hot chick and not because she was a real character.

3.) TERRIBLE villians. Blackheart and his emo band were so hilariously bad. And this is not a budget thing...this is just plain hackery in both design and execution. Without any villians that I can take seriously, the whole plot becomes pointless.

4.) They have an awesome scene where two generations of Ghost Riders gallop/ride across the plains that is truly inspiring. This scene got me so pumped that I was willing to forgive all the other problems. Then, in a shocking act of screenwriting stupidity, the Caretaker tips his hat and rides back into to desert without contributing one goddamn thing to the final fight. He said he could only change one more time, and instead of using it to fight Blackheart, he just uses it to escort Johnny to the battleground? Give me a frakking break!

I guess I would rather see a passionate director try and fail than a hack deliver more mediocrity, but you need to at least hit a mark close to the potential of the source material.

 

 

Copyright 2008 Flaming Heart Enterprises, L.L.C.